MadameNoire Featured Video

Gavel styled hammer for courtroom and auctions

Source: Douglas Sacha / Getty


In a swift decision, the Louisiana Supreme Court appointed Justice Vanessa Harris to the Supreme Court in Lafayette, Louisiana. The appointment comes as a result of the benching of previous City of Lafayette, Judge Michelle Odinet. Harris is the first Black woman to be appointed to the highest court in Louisiana.

While the scandal is the catalyst for Harris receiving her new seat, the Southern University Alum is well qualified. Judge Harris has been active in the criminal justice system since 1988, after receiving her “juris doctorate from Southern University Law Center.” She has served as an Assistant District Attorney in St. Landry Parish. Harris was elected to the Opelousas Courts in 2009, and retired in 2020. The current appointment brings her out of retirement. She will serve tentatively as judge pro tempore of Division A, Lafayette City Court, for the period of December 17, 2021 through February 28, 2022, according to The Louisiana Supreme Court press release. 

Odinet was caught making vile racist remarks via Ring Cam just ten days ago, according to News One. In reaction to an attempted burglary Odinet was heard saying the N-word multiple times. Odinet’s actions, despicable as they are, may be no shock to natives of Acadiana Parish — a Parish that as of 2012 still hosted segregated “whites only” class reunions.

It seems, the grandfathering of racism is alive and well in the Parish. Odinet’s son Elijah Odinet was released from Louisiana State University’s track team as a result of his hate speech while in conversation with his mother’s. Odinet “did mention her son “Eli” during the video,” MSN reported. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump tweeted about the incident on Dec. 15.


It is disheartening to know that a racist has had the fate of many Black and POC’s in her hands, according to the 2020 Census Lafayette is home to 121,00 people with 40 percent of whom are Black. The fairness of Odinet’s previous rulings have, rightfully, been called into question by current Orleans Parish District Attorney, Jason Williams:

“I have ordered my Civil Rights Division to initiate a full review of all cases prosecuted by now-Judge Michelle Odinet while she served as an Assistant District Attorney in Orleans Parish. The language attributed to Judge Odinet last week is deeply concerning to any person who genuinely cares about fair outcomes in our criminal system. No act, including a criminal act, justifies the denial of basic dignity inherent in the language used by Judge Odinet. That a judge and former prosecutor so comfortably employed a racial epithet serves as a telling reminder that the attitudes which fostered mass incarceration continue to undermine our pursuit of equal justice. Moreover, the casual dehumanization displayed by Judge Odinet raises serious questions about her impartiality and the presence of bias and discrimination in her work on the bench and during her time as a prosecutor.”

Judge Harris’s appointment, hopefully, holds a ray of hope for the people of Lafayette.

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN